Great Lakes/St. Lawrence shipping vital to growth, trade, jobs

In a speech January 19 in Toronto, new Chamber of Marine Commerce (CMC) President Bruce Burrows called the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway a vital engine of sustainable growth that would benefit from increased infrastructure spending in Canada and the U.S.

“I believe this sector has enormous untapped potential that can be unleashed to create more marine traffic at lower costs. I’m convinced that inland and coastal shipping in Canada and the U.S. has tremendous capacity to grow. And current economic and political conditions are conducive to seeing this goal realized,” said Burrows at the Chamber’s annual luncheon. “Shipping is efficient, safe and sustainable. Shipping is vital to growth, trade and new jobs.”

Burrows, who took up his new post in December, pointed to promises from President Donald Trump and plans by the government of Prime Minister Trudeau to invest heavily in infrastructure spending.

“New infrastructure investment will generate increased volumes of materials being shipped on the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence and our coasts,” he said. “Investments in icebreaking resources, waterways, locks and portside infrastructure and more efficient delivery of marine navigational services would unleash the full sustainable potential of shipping.”

Burrows noted that all signs indicate reduced red tape and business fees under President Trump and that he hoped the U.S. administration would work closely with the Canadian government to address the “hodgepodge of regulations that currently govern the binational waters that we work within.”

He also emphasized that marine shipping’s green advantage bodes well in today’s environmentally and climate-conscious world.

“With our fuel-efficient ships, we have a lower carbon footprint than road or rail,” he said. “And we enjoy low congestion relative to other major trade corridors. Marine shipping is an attractive alternative for governments committed to a sustainable transportation future, with the capacity to do even more to accelerate both economic and environmental progress.”

CMC Chair Wayne Smith also addressed the audience, noting the Chamber’s recently completed merger with the Canadian Shipowners Association was perfectly timed.

Smith explained: “In the current climate of increasing transportation regulation and cost, it is clear that we need to better coordinate and strengthen our industry advocacy efforts and to build new partnerships while strengthening existing relationships among North American business, government and marine industry stakeholders.”

The luncheon, a signature event during a week of industry meetings, attracted a crowd of more than 200 Canadian and U.S. shipping, industrial and agricultural executives along with federal, provincial and local government representatives. Stuart Rothenberg, one of Washington’s most highly respected political analysts and commentators, was the keynote speaker. Rothenberg is the founding editor of the Rothenberg Political Report, a weekly columnist with the Washington Post and a regular guest on national network television.

Maritime Editorial